Miss Audrey Turns One

We had a party last weekend to celebrate Audrey's First Birthday. It was a lot of fun to plan and execute our little celebration.

My theme was a cross between "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Leave a little sparkle wherever you go." I think it turned out pretty great.

A big thanks to my sister-in-law Steffanie who made me a custom Party Pack from her business "Minted Owl" that included the banners, cake topper, cupcake/sandwich picks, gold dipped A, and confetti. Also big thanks to my sister-in-law Linsday who made the adorable star cookies, the "Sparkle Bar" sign and helped decorate. And another big thanks to my mama who let use bedazzle her house and helped provide food and helped decorate.

Here's a little tour:

The full view of the treat table. There's sugar cookies, chocolate dipped marshmallows, chocolate dipped pretzel rods, chocolate drizzled strawberries, cupcakes and birthday cake!
A closer view of the goodies.
Strawberries + chocolate = delicious!
The cake I made and decorated - I was pretty proud of it!
A closer view of the cake.
A view of the lunch setup. Chicken salad sandwiches and fruit. 
Another view of food with the veggie tray (there was also ranch dip that someone eluded the photos) and star-shaped PB&J sandwiches for the kids. 
An Italian soda bar.
I made this station for people to write a little note to Audrey and then fold it into an origami lucky star. I then put all the stars into the shadow box in the picture to display on her wall.
I used the favors as a centerpiece for the table. I made the origami star boxes and filled them with candy for the kids. They also got a wand.
A close up of the star boxes. 
On the far right you can see the wish bracelets I made for the "Adult" favors. Each was handmade. The poem instructs you to make a wish as you tie it on and wear it until it falls off - then your wish will come true.
Of course, you need to see the birthday girl. Pardon her dirty knees, she doesn't walk just yet, and who's going to tell her she can't go outside and play on her birthday?
Big smiles.
Do you love her little tiara?
Happy 1st, Miss Audrey. We love you!


6 months

Well, Miss Audrey is already 6 months old.  So, it's time for a bit of an update.  Audrey is such a wonderful little addition to our family.  Geoff and I are both entirely smitten with this little chica.  She's easy-going and smart and so busy.  She loves attention and is very pleased with herself when she completes a goal (like getting to the cable in the corner that looks so tantalizing).

She's crazy about him.
At her 6th month appointment she weighed in at 14 lbs 6 oz and 27 inches long.  So, she's not a big baby weight-wise, but she is long.

Our ridiculous doctor appointment selfie
About a month ago she learned that she could roll to get around and now she doesn't stay put for very long.  Will was pretty much stationary until he could crawl at 9 months (he scooted on his back a bit, but didn't venture far), so this has been an adjustment for us to have
a little one getting around the house.  She's started pulling those knees up a little bit under her, too, so crawling is probably sooner than we'd like to think.

We started introducing solids a few weeks ago as well.  She LOVES to eat.  She's mostly had cereals and fruits and veggies at this point, but she gets very excited when you put her in her chair to eat.  She's messy, too, because she wants to help so much.

She's a little obsessed with cups and if you are drinking while holding her you have to watch out.  However, she's also easily entertained if you give her a cup to play with.
Sweet lady
She's a little tentative around strangers and reserves her grins and giggles for those who she knows the best.  When we are out and about we often get told that she "looks like a cabbage patch doll" or that she "should be a Gerber baby."  The combination of her loads of hair and her big, expressive eyes seem to give off that doll vibe.

Will's a good helper
We are just crazy about this little lady and Will is, too.  He has to give her a kiss before she goes to bed at night.  If she's crying, he'll give her her pacifier and shout "I helped baby feel better!" or he'll come find Geoff or I and tell us that we need to "Go help baby."  He sometimes calls her "Baby Kookoo" (thanks, Geoff), but then he'll laugh and say, "No.  Her name is Baby Audrey."  Now that she can get into his toys he's gotten a little possessive if she's got one of his cars, but he's always gentle and careful around her.
Cars are fun!
So, there's your little update on our growing little lady.  We're so glad she's here.

Bed head and morning smiles


Breastfeeding's Ugly Cousin

So, it's World Breastfeeding Week this week.  As a breastfeeding mother, I wanted to do a little post with what has been on my mind lately relating to breastfeeding.

Disclaimer: I love that I can breastfeed my baby.  I do think that breastfeeding is the best feeding option for infants.  However, I know that breastfeeding is not possible or desirable to all mamas.  Please, feed your baby whatever and however you like.  :)

Audrey has reached the age where eating is more fun than it is functional. She likes to pop off and then give me this look:

She's adorable.  I love sharing those grins with her.  I love feeling her body relax when she's upset and feeding her can provide comfort.  In public, I try to be discreet (I'm not one to just pop my nipples out), but I don't hesitate to feed her when and where she needs it.  I think breastfeeding is a beautiful thing.
But, breastfeeding has an ugly cousin.  You may have heard of it: pumping.  As any working mom (and many other moms whose babies can't latch or choose to pump for other reasons) knows, pumping is the exact opposite experience from the beautiful, sweet one of breastfeeding your baby.  Pumping is cumbersome, sometimes painful, isolating, and stressful (Did I pump enough?  Why does she drink more from a bottle then I can pump? Is she starving? Am I a failure as a woman and mother? Why is this so hard!? - just a few of the thoughts I think nearly every pumping mama has experienced).  

I am VERY lucky to work from home most days.  Because Geoff is at home right now as well, this means I get to feed Audrey more-or-less on demand (she gets a bottle of breast milk when I've got meetings).  However, a few weeks ago I had an on-site week with my work team and I was away from home Monday-Saturday.  I pumped exclusively for that week.  

Breastfeeding while traveling can be hard sometimes.  I traveled a lot with Will when he was young.  I was new to breastfeeding and tried to hide a bit, but there were mother's rooms and chairs in the corner where I could go to feed.

Airport bathrooms are swanky
Pumping is different.  You don't pump in a mother's room. Maybe some mom's do, but when people are coming in and out changing diapers and the pump is exposing my whole chest, I'm not comfortable with that.  So, I ended up pumping in airport bathroom stalls, restaurant bathrooms, etc...this was not beautiful.  Public toilets rarely have lids, too, so I couldn't even sit to pump (and even when I could, it's still gross).

Everywhere I went for a week, I was carrying around my pump, bottles, ice packs, cleansing wipes, storage bags (not to mention my computer and work supplies).  It was exhausting.  And by the end of the week I really felt frustrated that there aren't more appropriate public places provided for pumping mothers.
Breastfeeding awareness has come a long way.  It's no longer looked down upon to breastfeed in public (although I'm a LOT more comfortable doing it in the SF Bay Area then I was in North Dakota).  But, no one talks about pumping in public.  Employers are required to provide appropriate pumping spaces, but what about airports, restaurants, rest stops, coffee shops, etc...

Pumping exclusively for a week was very difficult, not so much because the pumping is hard (you get the hang of it), but because I felt relegated to bathroom stalls and hiding to do it.  Even my husband, who I was talking to about the logistics of pumping and the new (smaller) pump I had acquired before I left on my trip, at one point said to me, "That's great, honey.  But, you know, no one wants to hear you talk about pumping."  And he's right.  Pumping is weird.  It's not tender, it's not beautiful, it's not natural.  

So, here I am.  Talking about it.  Proud of myself for doing it and hoping that I can inspire at least one other mama to pump proudly.  It's not a beautiful experience like breastfeeding can be (although, let's all admit that the first few weeks of breastfeeding can be pretty terrible), but it allows us to provide for our little ones even while we're away - and I'd do anything for that little one.


The Baby Whisperer

Audrey is a very chatty baby.  Ever since she learned that she can roll to get around the house, she's been pretty much the happiest baby you can imagine.  She'll roll somewhere interesting and then sit and yammer on and on about whatever baby things are on her mind. 

So. a few days ago she was chatting and I asked Will, "Hey, Will - What's baby saying?"  I was a little surprised when he looked at Audrey and listened for a second and turned back to me and informed me that "Baby says she wants to watch School Bus." (As in The Magic School Bus, Will's current show of choice.)

So, ever since then he's taken it upon himself to let me know what the baby is saying.  Sometimes it's self-serving (i.e. she wants you to turn on my favorite show), but sometimes it's just down right adorable.  I was holding Audrey yesterday and she was making lots of noise.  Will got really close to her and said "What's baby talking about?"  I said, "I don't know, what is she talking about?"

He smiled at me and said, "She says 'I love you, mama.'" 

I told him, "I love baby!"  To which he declared, "I love baby, too" and he gave both of us a big hug. 

This turned into a whole round of "I love you"s.

I'm going to go ahead and assume that he's totally right and Audrey was just trying to let me know how much she loved me.  And, heck, maybe sometimes she just really wants to watch The Magic School Bus, too. 


Summer: Unplugged

My son loves to throw rocks.  Specifically, he likes to throw rocks into water.  Into the ocean, lakes, streams, puddles - you name it.  He also loves to run.  All the time.  He thinks running is the most fun when you are doing it with him.  He also likes to build train tracks and play catch and drive cars and paint and draw and cook and do laundry and brush his teeth and turn the fan (which he calls "the machine") on and off for as long as you'll let him.  And bubbles - don't even get me started on the bubble machine.

Today was a stressful day for me.  I've had a lot on my mind and after work I decided we could all use some time at the park. So, we loaded the kids in the stroller and walked to the park.  The nearest park also has a small beach which is where we spent most of our time.  Will wanted to throw rocks into the water and into the small tide pools left behind in the rocks.  I mentally prepared myself to just enjoy the rock throwing as long as he wanted.  Sometimes this is hard for me.  Rock after rock goes into the water and he squeals with delight, hunts for more and then repeats.  After 5 or 10 rocks, I'm done.  I've lost interest.

But, not tonight.  Tonight I was caught up in his joy.  Caught up in how fascinating it is to him that some rocks are black and some are brown.  Caught up in how he delighted in the big splashes.  Caught up in the excitement of finding a new pool of water or a waterfall.  He found so much joy in the whole experience and I was lucky to get to be invited to participate.

A couple of times as I was watching him I felt my hand wander to my phone, ready to peek at whatever inane information the internet had waiting for me.  Each time this happened I made a conscious effort to remind myself to stay present in the moment.  To remind myself that nothing on my phone couldn't wait an hour.  And you know what?  It was great.  I had so much fun throwing rocks and laughing with my boy.

For Christmas, my mom gave us a very cool old-school box called a "Phone Minder."  It was used in hotels in the past to remind users that they had a limited amount of time available to use the phone.  But, she encouraged us to use it to hold our phones during dinner time so that we weren't looking at our phones during this critical time of day with our family.  She said to us, "I didn't have these kinds of distractions when I had young kids.  I know that those times I spent with you guys were so special - and you'll never regret any time you spend with your kids without your phone or other devices."

Ever since Will was born, I've tried to keep my phone or computer away when we are together and I've done alright for the most part - but this summer I've got a new resolve to put away my phone after work each day until the kids go to bed.  I want to look back on these times and remember running and hopping and popping bubbles and dancing and laughing and even throwing rocks.  I want to foster my son's love of play and exploring outside and learning.  And, mostly, I want to be patient.  We live in such a fast-paced world that it's hard to focus on one task for too long, but I don't ever want my kids to feel like I wasn't interested about the things that make them excited.

So, here's to a summer (and beyond) of long, warm nights - unplugged.


4 Months

Well, my little gal is over 4 months old now.  I'd like to make sure I document a bit during this short infant time.  I know it sounds like a cliche, but I don't know where the time has gone.  She's growing so fast!
Newly born
She had her four month checkup with the doctor last week and weighed in at 12 pounds 12 ounces and measured 26 inches.  That puts her in the 10th-25th percentile for weight and the 90th-95th percentile for height.  This has made clothing sizes a little hard because she's too long for 3 month clothes, but doesn't fill out 6 month clothes very well.  But, she's got so many cute clothes (thanks to the generous hand-me-downs from friends and family) that it's an okay problem to have!  (For anyone interested and because I think everything is interesting, her brother was 12 pounds 15 ounces and 24 inches - between 5th and 10th percentile for both).

One month old
She is very good with her hands and likes to grab onto everything within her reach.  If she doesn't have a toy within reach, her hands will be in her mouth.  She likes her pacifier, but find her hands to be almost as good of an option if the paci isn't around.

2 months
She is happiest when you are looking her in the eye and playing with her.  She likes to smile and "chat" and only really gets fussy when no one is paying attention to her.  If she's being held, she's happy.  In fact, as I type this, she is sitting on my lap looking at the computer screen and holding my arms - happy as a clam.
3 months
She's totally enamored with her brother and loves to watch him do everything.  He often tells me that "baby needs a car" and will carefully select the car she needs from his basket and put it in her hand.  Usually after about three seconds he takes it away to get her a new one.  They both think this is a fun game.

She rolled from belly to back Thursday for the first time (that I've seen, Geoff informed me that he's see her do it before I didn't tell me!!).  She's been rolling back to front for a few weeks.  She doesn't have the most impressive head control, but her tummy time continues to improve every day.
4 months
The doctor, in an effort to encourage me to help her gain some more weight before her next check-up, suggested I start her on solids, but she's not ready.  We started Will around 4.5 months, but he was much more ready physically for solids.  I'll want Audrey's head control to improve more before we'll do that.

Overall she's just been a happy and welcome addition to our little family and we love watching her grow!

And, seriously, that hair.


What do you do in the Summertime?

Summer is upon us!

This is our second summer in California (and our first that I'm not also pregnant), so we are excited to make the most of this beautiful place that we live.  Our budget is small this year, so we can't do anything big, but there is a LOT to do for little to no money (and the beauty of a toddler is that everything is big - playing outside on the driveway is big stuff to him).

So [inspired by this Pinterest find], Monday night for family night, we went to the dollar store and got all the supplies we needed to make our own Summer Fun To Do List.

Now, mine isn't even half as cute as the pinned one, but Will had SO much fun decorating it with sponges and paint and stickers that it's worth the eye sore that it became.  It's now hanging on our wall as a reminder of all the fun we can have when we are sitting around on a warm summer evening or a slow moving Saturday.

Every time that Will sees it, he proceeds to tell me all about the parts that he painted and the car stickers he put on it.  It's going to be a great summer!